Friday Rundown: 4.18.14

Good morning! Did you realize that every day this week was a palindrome?


Pretty cool, right? We’ll call it Fun Fact Friday. On to the Rundown.

Cuomo accepts pro-charter role (Albany Times Union)…Editorial: Cuomo drives schools to the brink  (Glens Falls Post Star)

State senator joins push to delay teacher exam (Journal News)

There are 215 more master teachers in NY (Journal News)

Web Essay: When teachers can’t teach, students fail (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

They still don’t get it about Common Core (Times Herald Record – subscription may be required)

Opt-out movement gains traction across region (Buffalo News)

Revised SAT Won’t Include Obscure Vocabulary Words (NY Times)

Editorial: Allow voters to decide on taxes (Glens Falls Post Star)

Editorial: Happy, unhappy times for school budgets in Elmira region (Elmira Star Gazette)

Schumer calls for funding to fight school violence (Buffalo News)

Parental involvement is overrated (NY Times)

5 Ways School Libraries Can Stay Relevant in the Digital Age (Center for Digital Education)

NYSUT elects first female president, issues vote of “no confidence” in commissioner

Karen Magee, an elementary and special education teacher from Westchester County was elected president of the New York State United Teachers and it’s 600,000 members over the weekend.

Magee becomes the first female president of NYSUT, succeeding Richard Iannuzzi, who served in the same role since 2005. Magee was elected to a three-year term.

“Our team stands for change and our work begins now,” Magee said. “That includes taking on the tough fights and communicating clearly with decision makers at every level. We will be the voice they cannot ignore. We will defend public education and public service. Period.”

According to NYSUT’s website, Magee is a member of the NYSUT Board of Directors and its Policy Council. She is an elected representative to the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System. For more than a decade, Magee has served as an officer of the Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body, AFL-CIO and was the first woman to receive the WPCLB Labor Award.

Over the weekend, the state’s largest union also issued a vote of “no confidence” in John King, calling for his removal as education commissioner.

In a unanimous vote, NYSUT also withdrew their support for the Common Core Learning Standards as interpreted and implemented in New York state and, in a separate resolution, supported the rights of parents and guardians to opt their children out of high-stakes tests.

“There is a revolution under way. Parents and teachers, standing together on behalf of what’s best for students, have made it clear that ‘enough is enough,’” then-NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said. “We have had it with top-down decision-making that ignores the voices of parents and teachers, and we’ve had it with a broken ideology that values obsessive testing and data collection over teaching and learning and meeting the needs of the whole child.”

The recently approved state budget puts into law a series of recommendations to immediately improve the implementation of the Common Core in New York, including banning standardized “bubble tests” for young children, protecting students from high stakes testing based on unfair results, ensuring instructional time is used for teaching and learning and not over-testing, and protecting the privacy of students.

Cuomo: Effects of Common Core tests on teacher evals something “we have to deal with”

Via Jessica Bakeman: Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday that the state needs to take action and protect teachers and principals from “premature” consequences of low scoring Common Core-based test scores. This is a new wrinkle to the evaluation process from Cuomo, as he’s been hard pressed to bend on any teacher evaluation changes.

The recently approved state budget puts into law a series of recommendations to immediately improve the implementation of the Common Core in New York, including banning standardized “bubble tests” for young children, protecting students from high stakes testing based on unfair results, ensuring instructional time is used for teaching and learning and not over-testing, and protecting the privacy of students.

“If you said Common Core testing was premature for students and you just halted the grades on the transcript, then what is your opinion about the impact of Common Core testing on teachers’ evaluations and what should be done?” Cuomo said. “We need to address it before the end of session.”

In a recent op-ed piece in the Albany Times Union, NYSUT president Richard Iannuzzi expressed his frustration with the current evaluation system.

“Teachers deserve much better than ‘gotcha’ evaluations based on discredited and invalid measures of student performance,” he said. “Until the Regents and state education department fully get it right and can ensure that student assessments and teacher evaluations are accurate and fair measures of what happens in the classroom, New York must honor the intent of the teacher evaluation law and delay high-stakes consequences.”

In her article, Bakeman notes that Cuomo’s timing on this issue is interesting, as it follows NYSUT’s launch of a $1.5 million advertising campaign against him. They’ve also been critical of Cuomo for his recent pro-charter schools position.

What are your thoughts? Should the teacher evaluation system be addressed as it relates to Common Core test scores? Sound off in the comments below.

#NYSBudget14 Rundown

With a tentative agreement on the 2014 state budget reached over the weekend, the New York State Legislature is expected to vote on the $140 billion budget this morning.

Last year’s vote took in excess of 13 hours, so we could be in for a long day before any announcement is made. Stay with us throughout the day for updates. You can follow us on Twitter, @edspeaksNY for the latest out of Albany.

Here’s what the education component of the budget looks like:

  • School Aid: The Budget includes a $1.1 billion – or 5.3% – increase in education aid for the 2014-15 school year. High-needs school districts will receive nearly 70 percent of the 2014-15 allocated increase.
  • Reform Common Core Implementation: The Budget puts into law a series of recommendations to immediately improve the implementation of the Common Core in New York State, including banning standardized “bubble tests” for young children, protecting students from high stakes testing based on unfair results, ensuring instructional time is used for teaching and learning and not over-testing, and protecting the privacy of students.
  • Statewide Universal Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten: The Budget builds upon the success of the first-ever State-funded full-day pre-kindergarten program by committing to invest $1.5 billion over five years to support the phase-in of a Statewide Universal Full-Day Pre-Kindergarten program.
  • Protect Charter Schools: The Budget increases tuition funding for charter school students over three years: $250 per student the first year, $350 the second, and $500 in the third. The Budget will also promote the growth of charter schools by addressing their facility needs. Charter schools will be eligible for Pre-K funding.
  • Smart Schools: The Budget includes a $2 billion general obligation bond act. Bond proceeds will fund enhanced education technology in schools, with eligible projects including infrastructure improvements to bring high-speed broadband to schools and communities in their school district and the purchase of classroom technology for use by students. Additionally, Smart Schools will enable long-term investments in full-day pre-kindergarten through the construction of new pre-kindergarten classroom space, replace classroom trailers with permanent classroom space and make investments in high-tech school safety projects.
  • $1.5 Billion in Property Tax Relief: The Budget includes a new Property Tax Credit to provide relief to New York homeowners and address one of the primary drivers of the State’s high property taxes – the outsized number of local governments. The property tax relief package is designed to incentivize local governments to share services and reduce their financial burden on the taxpayer. In the first year under the reform plan, New Yorkers will receive property tax relief if their local governments stay within the property tax cap. The property tax cuts will be extended for a second year in jurisdictions which comply with the tax cap and have put forward a plan to save 1 percent of their tax levy per year, over three years. While localities may offer a variety of approaches, the plan is designed to incentivize county governments to convene and facilitate a process and submit a county-wide plan for approval. Over three years, the program will result in over $1.5 billion in direct property tax relief for as many as 2.8 million taxpayers.

Headlines from around the state

Education is focus as state leaders agree on budget (Buffalo News)

Pre-K funds, charter school protections, and Common Core changes in state budget deal (Chalkbeat)

ELFA Includes Common Core Changes (NY State of Politics)

Budget deal in Albany reshapes NY education, taxes (NCPR)

State Budget Deal Reached; $300 Million for New York City Pre-K (NY Times)

State budget would boost education funds by $1.1B (NY Newsday)

Charters appear to get some help downstate, not so much outside of NYC (Capitol Confidential)

King pens letter to superintendents ahead of Common Core tests

Yesterday, Education Commissioner John King sent a letter to superintendents about the upcoming Common Core-related assessments next month, urging them to communicate with parents and teachers now in order to lessen the anxiety and frustration over state testing.

Last August, King and the Education Department faced criticism due to lower scores from the more robust exams, despite the commissioner’s warning that the scores would be down from previous years.

King asked superintendents to get out in front of what he called “misinformation.”

“It is especially important that you communicate now to help correct misinformation that can cause anxiety and frustration among students and teachers. When everyone understands how the assessments help us better identify student strengths and needs and better support the growth of classroom teachers, the anxiety will lessen and students will feel more comfortable.”

King offered superintendents six “critical points” to reinforce with parents and teachers, including that the best preparation for testing is good teaching, educators should understand that their evaluations are never based exclusively on test scores, and every question on the New York Common Core Assessment was written for New York, reviewed by New York educators and field-tested with New York students.

Friday Rundown: 3.21.14

Somewhere in this great country of ours, someone is experiencing the warmer temperatures that come with spring. It’s just not you or me. Hopefully, your bracket hasn’t busted yet. The New York teams playing had an up and down day yesterday. Manhattan and Albany were tripped up last night, but Syracuse held on and will next play on Saturday. Here’s your Rundown. Enjoy the weekend!

Commissioner John King delivered his State of Education address yesterday and focused on the regents reform agenda (Albany Business Review, TWC News)

Gov. Cuomo presses lawmakers to support his plan for property-tax freeze (Poughkeepsie Journal)…NY Minute: Cuomo sweetens property tax freeze proposal (Syracuse Post Standard)

59 protesters arrested amid state budget talks, many education advocates (Albany Times Union)

Table targets: Small advances seen for education funding (Albany Times Union)

Opinion: Youth an asset to school boards (Albany Times Union)

Opinion: By re-electing Regents, state legislators reject further politicization of education (Buffalo News)

Common Core jolts prospective teachers (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Federal report: N.Y.’s education reform making progress (Journal News)

Why should kids just ‘sit and stare’? as parents, school officials debate Common Core testing (Buffalo News)

Opinion: Charter school $ecret$ (Albany Times Union)

Upstate educators slam budget plan to spend $540M on Big Apple (Times Herald Record)

Kindergarten, not pre-K, elusive for some N.Y. schools (Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin)

Are American students grossly unprepared for college? (Washington Post)

No, Kids Don’t Have More Homework Than They Did 30 Years Ago (Time)

Cuomo’s Common Core recommendations are out

In case you missed it, last night Governor Cuomo’s Common Core Implementation Panel released its preliminary recommendations. Critics say there isn’t much new here and that nearly all of them have already been adopted by the State Board of Regents or proposed by lawmakers

The short version:

Protect students from inappropriate high-stakes testing by:

    • Banning standardized “bubble tests” for young children (K-2)
    • Protecting students from high stakes based on unfair test results
    • Using instructional time for teaching and learning – not over-testing.

Provide better support for parents and teachers by:

    • Treating parents as essential partners in Common Core implementation.
    • Ensuring that teachers receive the training and support they need and deserve.
    • Giving educators access to quality Common Core curriculum resources as quickly as possible.

Improve public trust in Common Core implementation by:

    • Ensuring ongoing parental and citizen participation and input into Common Core implementation

Protect student privacy by:

    • Establishing strict data protection and security requirements, while ensuring that appropriate educational and operational data-sharing can occur.
    • Halting the state’s relationship with inBloom.

You can check out some news coverage of these “familiar” recommendations hereherehere and here.

And this: Common Core panelist says ‘incomplete’ report was rushed out.

Friday Rundown: 3.7.14

Another day, another cold morning. Looks like our temperatures are creeping up a little bit this weekend though. Silver lining, folks. Here’s your Rundown from the last week.

State Assembly Votes on Common Core Changes

Common Core: Aspiring teachers face certification hurdles (Journal News)

Common Core fallout: Lawmakers hope to find replacements for Regents (Journal News)

Editorial: Cuomo enlists taxpayers in fight for 2-year freeze (Journal News)

Student data company on the defensive at Assembly hearing (Capital NY)

Cuomo TV ad pushes his Common Core stance (NY Daily News – Subscription required)

In second meeting, Cuomo’s Common Core panel tackles new ed policies (Chalkbeat NY)

Money alone won’t solve the problems of New York’s schools (Buffalo News)

State’s budget gimmick is hindering schools (Hint: Three simple letters) (Oneonta Daily Star)

Cuomo Vows to Defend Charter Schools, Setting Up Another Battle With de Blasio (NY Times)…Fred LeBrun: Governor’s charter school baloney blitz (Albany Times Union)…Editorial: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s charter support is a win for kids (NY NewsDay – Subscription required)

College Board Shakes Up SAT (Wall Street Journal)…New SAT should reflect Common Core, standard classroom work (Journal News)

‘I’m tired of watching New York’s decline’: Rob Astorino announces run for governor (Auburn Citizen)

Coverage of Herkimer Regional Advocacy Forum

Assembly votes for Common Core changes

After nearly five hours of debate, the state Assembly voted Wednesday night to delay portions of the Common Core Learning Standards.

The bill would prevent schools from using Common Core-based scores for teacher evaluations for two school years. It also prevents schools from using scores to decide whether a student will advance to the next grade. The bill will also prohibit the State Education Department from sharing student data with certain outside vendors until July 1, 2015.

The bill passed in a 117 to 10 vote.

Earlier Wednesday evening, Assembly Republicans tried to amend the legislation to establish a panel to decide whether to use the Common Core standards at all. The amendment was defeated when lawmakers said it could jeopardize the state’s federal Race to the Top grants.

Throughout the debate, assembly members were at times, very critical of the standards, specifically the implementation of them.

“The roll out of the Titanic went better than the Common Core,” Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin said.

The bill, at the present moment, appears unlikely to be taken up in the Senate. This, from the Journal News:

Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said earlier this week he would prefer to wait for a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put forward its own recommendations. The chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Republican Sen. John Flanagan of Suffolk County, said he supports some parts of the bill, but said he has concerns about other portions.

The Governor’s Common Core panel met yesterday morning. You can get caught up on that here.

AQE & the Campaign for Fiscal Equity find constitutional violations in study

During the week of February 24-28th, the Alliance for Quality Education and the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, a project of the Education Law Center, visited 14 school districts across the state to begin documenting educational resource deficiencies resulting from the state’s failure to meet its obligations under the New York State Constitution.

In a press conference yesterday afternoon, the two organizations released their findings, explaining that they found “substantial and compelling evidence” of failure by Gov. Cuomo and the legislature to provide the resources necessary for all students to receive a “sound, basic education,” as guaranteed by the New York constitution.

“Despite often extraordinary efforts by local school leaders and educators the State’s failure to provide adequate educational resources has impeded districts’ ability to provide all students a “sound, basic education,” a statement from AQE and CFE said.

From western New York to Long Island, AQE and CFE met with superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents who shared evidence regarding the educational impacts of the state’s under-funding of their schools. Among their findings:

  • Class sizes have risen to over 25 and in some cases over 30.
  • All of the school districts have cut staff in some cases as much as 20% — despite the fact that in many districts student enrollment has actually grown.
  • Some of the most dramatic cuts have been to academic interventions for students not performing at grade level including severe cuts to summer school and to state mandated tutoring.
  • School libraries have been closed, cut hours or have no librarians.
  • Guidance counselors are substantially overloaded and there is a shortage of social workers and school psychologists.
  • Some elementary schools offer no art or no music, foreign languages and elective courses have all been cut—with some districts replacing academic courses with study halls.

Click here to read the full report 

“The State’s school funding cuts are causing severe educational harm to New York’s school children, especially in high need, underfunded city and rural districts” Executive Director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity David Sciarra said. “The resource deficits in some districts are so palpably inadequate as to deprive children of their constitutional right to a sound basic education.”

With the two houses of the state legislature preparing their education budgets – to be voted on March 12 – AQE and CFE are preparing for a potential school funding lawsuit if the state does not live up to its constitutional obligation this year.